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Christian Photographer Left with '3 Bad Options' After Court Tosses Religious Freedom Case - Jail and $100,000 Fine?

Emilee Carpenter via ADF
Emilee Carpenter via ADF

A Christian photographer and blogger could be forced to pay up to $100,000 in fines, get tossed in jail for up to a year, and have her business license revoked if she refuses to create photos and blogs for same-sex weddings.

A federal district court dismissed a case Monday from Emilee Carpenter who argued she should not be required to take pictures at a same-sex wedding ceremony because it violates her religious beliefs.

U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. denied her case saying she failed to "state a claim upon which relief may be granted."  

The Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF) explained Geraci's decision is based on a July ruling in "303 Creative v. Elenis", in which Colorado web designer, Lorie Smith, declined to design and publish websites promoting messages that violate her religious belief.

"In that case, the 10th Circuit ruled that the government can compel web designer and graphic artist Lorie Smith to speak messages with which she disagrees because she creates 'custom and unique' expression," they shared. 

The ADF, who represented both Carpenter and Smith, disagree with Geraci's ruling and said it creates a bad precedent. 

"The court's decision continues down a dangerous path of the government compelling artists to speak messages that violate their religious beliefs—or imposing steep fines, closing their businesses, or throwing them in jail," ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs said in a statement.

The group said the judge has left Carpenter with "three bad options": Violate the law, violate her beliefs, or close business. 

"But those options ignore one rather important thing: the U.S. Constitution," wrote ADF's Sarah Kramer. 

The ADF is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Smith's case so that artists like her and Carpenter will have the freedom to run their businesses according to their religious beliefs. 

"Emilee's beliefs about marriage are not unusual," Kramer added. "Countless Americans from all walks of life share the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. And the government has a duty to protect the freedoms of people on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue."

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